LeWeb3 Fallout. As A Speaker, I’m Not Happy
I was a speaker at LeWeb3, from which I have just returned. As the conference opened, I was on a panel with three others, for a 30 minute session, where I would talk about Combat Cards (the collectible card game for Second Life) so was looking forward to giving a ten minute presentation. With only a single stream running, i reckoned this would be to 600 or so people (out of the 1000 attendees).
Unfortunatly Loic Le Meur, the organiser, put paid to that and canceled my session for another ‘surprise speaker.’ By deciding (for whatever reasons) to provide a platform to the ex-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perezm and French Presidential candidates Nikolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou, Le Web 3 was turned into a political rally, all the attendees and sponsors will now be used to provide legitimacy for the candidates views, a good number of speakers have not been able to put on a great show, and the general feeling from attendees is as close to a lynch mob that the blogosphere can muster.
Luckily a number of speakers managed to shuffle themselves around and squeeze me onto another panel, so a big thank you to Jonas Luster and Jeff Clavier for moving me into ‘The Future of Gaming” panel (which, to be honest, was more appropriate than “When Will Virtual Life be Better Than Our Real Life?“). Even with the few minutes that I had, I managed to get something memorable in. By combining my available time with Jonas, we managed to rattle through Combat Cards in SL, why World of Warcraft has such a huge community, and have an RL Sword Fight on stage on show that sometimes the virtual gaming ideals cannot trannslate safely into the modern world.
Thankfully we still seemed to have made an impact, as we had a good number of people appraoch us after the talk with questions on gmaing, SL, WoW and virtual reality games and worlds. Jonas on stage had made a brief comment to the effect of ‘everyone is different, for example I don’t like French politicians,” which provoked one of the loudest positive reactions from the audience that day. Perhaps Le Meur should have picked up on this rather than his one over-riding concern of getting his friends on stage to further their (his?) political ambitions?
Le Meur’s closing comments of “I wanted to take risks” and “I would do it again” are appauling. To take the conference so far away from what every delegate assumed it to be, into a way for Loic to place his political friends in front of the technological elite of Europe (and you can bet that this is the angle the news and Spin Doctors will take) is in my opinion shameful, disrespectful and dishonest. I had to really work to raise enough of a budget to get to this event, so close to Christmas (to the point of staying in a six bed dorm at the nearby Youth Hostel). Flights into Paris from Edinburgh are not cheap, and I’m out the best part of £200 overall. Add on top of that 400 Euros for the conference ticket that others paid, and it’s an expensive event.
Le Meur’s chosen candidate for the French Presidental race will not forget Le Meur’s contribution to his press. Le Meur’s accquaintances on the World Economic Forum will not forget Le Meur’s contribution to their visibility. The French TV and media will not forget Le Meur’s ability to provide them a story… to the detriment of the paying crowd behind the cameras wondering what the frak happened to their conference about the Web.
The blogosphere will not forget Le Meur’s handling of Le Web 3.
I wonder what the sponsors think? Six Apart, Vox, Orange and Tech Crunch where the headline sponsors, joined by Google, Nokia, Fon, Microsoft Windows Live, NetVibes, VPod TV as the major sponsors, and Guidewire Group, Advent Venture Partners, Partech International, SMSConnecnt/Echovox, Sky-click and Wengo were below the line sponors. I am now going to take time today to write a traditional physical letter to ask them if they are happy to have their company and products associated with a political hijacking.
If you were at Le Web 3, or are supporters of the above companies, perhaps you might consider doing the same?
[Added 14th Dec]: My co-panellist Jonas Luster has posted his comments on the organisation of Le Web 3, with a number of comments regarding he timing, political diaries, what the Israeli presence will have contributed to our secret service dossiers, and the one-nation view of the politicians compared to the Hallway Track…